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European Union must set the bar high with regards Irish language implementation - de Brún

13 July, 2006

Sinn Féin MEP Bairbre de Brún has today called upon her fellow Irish MEPs to work together "to ensure that Irish is treated on a par with the other languages of the European Union".

Ms de Brún made her comments after it emerged that European Parliament plans to provide limited translation and interpretation only from January 1st 2007. Ms de Brún expressed disappointment that the parliament had set the bar quite low in terms of ambition for the first period of implementation.

Speaking today Ms de Brún said:

"It is important to welcome the progress made to date on ensuring all of the commitments made at European level regarding the Irish language are implemented. However, it is my belief that European officials have set the bar much too low, in terms of what the European Parliament will provide to Irish speakers and our constituents.

"Whilst there will undoubtedly be initial teething problems, the European Union must be more ambitious in its pursuit of what is possible for the Irish language in an EU context. This is about equality - Irish language speakers must be entitled to the same rights and services offered to Italian, Latvian or Spanish speakers.

"The Irish Government must defend the rights of Irish speakers across Ireland. It has been a long and hard struggle for Irish language campaigners to ensure that Irish is on an equal playing field with other languages ˆ it is essential that we do everything in our power to ensure the maximum level of support for the language. This means ensuring the adequate availability of both translators and interpreters and ensuring that the European institutions work dynamically between now and 1st January 2007.

"It is essential that all Irish MEPs work together to ensure that between now and January 1st we do all in our power to ensure that the European Union keeps to its agreement and does not downgrade its commitment to the Irish language." ENDS

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